By: Colleen Strachan   |   Posted: December 22, 2022

We hope you enjoy this encouraging message about the songs of joy sung in the Bible and about finding hopeful community in difficult times.

Songs of Joy: A Christmas Devotional

We hope you enjoy this encouraging message about the songs of joy sung in the Bible and about finding hopeful community in difficult times.

Written by Colleen Strachan
Photography by Chuck Bigger and Tonny Tunya
school children sing and clap

Psalms 5:11
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Can you name a favorite worship song or hymn from five years ago? Ten years ago? From your childhood? My guess is that you can. There’s a good reason for this: In God’s design, the part of our brain that processes music sits right next to the part of our brain that stores memory.

This is one of the reasons that setting truth to music matters so much. From memorizing the alphabet to memorizing the books of the Bible, if something is important to remember, we often invent a melody to help us find that truth over and over again. During the Christmas season, music fills the air, and the best songs are the songs that help us remember.

When Jesus entered the world as Messiah, those around him celebrated with songs. The gospel of Luke gives us four different songs of praise, wonder and adoration: Mary’s song, Zachariah’s song, the song of the angels and the song of Simeon (Luke 1:46-55, 1:67-79, 2:14, 2:29-32). Each one is beautifully unique, reflecting God’s glory as experienced by the one singing, but also capturing the hopes of their community and their shared longing for the redemption of creation.

a boy raises his hands in praise

All around the world this month, our brothers and sisters will be celebrating the birth of Christ. No matter where the celebration happens, people will sing. We will add our songs to the great chorus. We’ll remember what God has done and is doing for us.

Perhaps we’ll sing with Mary: “for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name” (Luke 1:49a).

Perhaps we’ll sing with Zachariah: “the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79a).

Perhaps we’ll sing with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

a young girl dressed as an angel

Or with Simeon: “For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:22).

We find joy in singing with others. None of the singers in Luke sing by themselves — Mary sings to Elizabeth; Zachariah sings to a gathering of friends and family; the angels sing together and to the shepherds; Simeon sings to Jesus and his family. Each song is an invitation to step into loving and faithful community, to hold on to shared hope through song.

On the front lines of poverty, 2022 has been a difficult year marked by hunger, increasing violence and continued concern for health and wellbeing. How beautiful to know that even in desperate and uncertain times, because it is Christmas, our neighbors will be lifting songs of praise. Your sponsored child will receive a gift that helps them feel known, loved and connected. Letters filled with gospel truth will be delivered. And, above all, we will remember our salvation.

About the author: Colleen Strachan is a spiritual formation specialist with Compassion USA.

Recipe: Christmas Rice
Arroz Navideño, or Christmas Rice, is popular throughout Latin America. Try this recipe from Ecuador, which has an unexpected ingredient, to get a taste of what families in Latin America are eating at celebrations this time of year.